Chief Brexit negotiators suspended direct talks on Thursday after a member of the EU team tested positive, but officials were continuing their work in line with health guidelines.
The suspension came as Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, said the talks on a new trade agreement were at “a critical stage” but could still yield a “comprehensive and balanced” deal.
Britain’s transition out of the European Union ends on Dec. 31 and the two sides are still trying to clinch a last-minute deal.
“We are at a critical stage of the negotiations,” Tuppurainen told Reuters in a brief phone interview. “The time pressure is huge and we all realise that time is running out… I haven’t given up faith.”
“We all have to do our outmost in order to reach the agreement. That’s the aim of the EU. We want to have a comprehensive, a balanced agreement with the UK.”